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Aditi Dass on India's LED market tipping-point

28 November 2011

Aditi Dass, Director of Technologies India, The Climate Group writes for the Economic Times on the LED market which is on the tipping-point of acceleration.

Central Government in India may be taking steps to incentivize electricity output mechanisms, but private players also need to spot the huge green market of LED lighting that is just waiting to explode.

Energy is a key driver in propelling every economic growth story. And at a time when it is estimated that by 2030, India will have a GDP five times higher than at present, the issue of energy security is even more critical.

A cursory view of India's energy system says India is the fifth largest generator of power in the world (170 GW as of January 2011), producing 4% of the global total. On top of this, the country's 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012) set targets to achieve an extra 62 GW of capacity.

But the catch is that most of the electricity currently consumed in India derives from coal. Of the total electricity consumed in India, 65.3% is generated by thermal power plants, of which 53% is coal-based.  

These statistics are clearly indicative of the fact that India has a way to travel to ensure that energy mix gets cleaner, but in this rapidly evolving energy efficiency domain, LEDs are one of the clean technologies that will really drive a low carbon economy.   

With India's urban population set to increase from 400 million in 2011 to about 600 million or more by 2030, energy consumption for street lighting is set to shoot up significantly as well.  

As a result of growing climate concern worldwide, different smart policies are moving forward. For example, new energy legislation, including the phasing out of incandescent lamps, is in place or is underway in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and elsewhere.

But even with benefits and huge opportunities, adoption of this LED lighting technology is a challenging task as it is offset by barriers of high cost, deficient awareness levels and lack of standardization. And though capacity building, exposure trips and information sharing workshops can help increase awareness levels, it's only through appropriate policy measures and multilayered methodology approach that adoption issues can be addressed.

Equally important is to design and implement small pilot projects on the use of LEDs so as to test the technology on site and gather information on their performance in the field, which can be useful when designing and implementing large scale projects.

After the technological sustainability of the LED technology has found its feet in Indian market, its now time for it to get mainstreamed and upscaled. Though central government is taking steps to incentivize higher efficiencies and electricity output mechanism, the private players also need to spot this huge green market that is about to accelerate.

Right now the high initial cost of LED products is an issue, but such is the market economics that once the demand for the technology increases the prices will automatically get competitive and LEDs will play a key role in the Clean Revolution.

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